A GYM owner has shared his experience of reopening his business after a challenging year in the fitness industry.

Jeff Waters, of YourZone45 in Colliers Wood, reopened his gym on April 12 after being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 42-year-old from Australia owns both the gym in Merton and a Reformer Pilates studio back in Godalming.

He told us how the pandemic has been the "toughest challenge" of his life and his excitement on reopening.

"The struggle has been real for both sites and double the losses," said Jeff.

"I always felt I had the right to work and make a living - to have that right taken from you is a very complicated emotion to process and understand.

Every day for the last year has been a fight, both emotionally and financially.

"Another lockdown will break the business; I am pretty sure that is across the board for [all] small businesses.

"We are all just hanging in there, most will not make it through once all the support stops."

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Speaking about the importance of pulling through for his community members, he added: "In the fitness industry, you have to put on your positive boots and make people feel good about themselves.

Doing that day in and day out and knowing your livelihood depends on it when you are worrying [about] how you are going to pay for the shopping  and potentially lose my business- It’s a pretty tough front to put on every day.

"Without the support of my wonderful members, I would not have got through."

He added: "Seeing so many of my members themselves struggling has been hard and puts your own struggles in perspective.

"Nobody suffered alone in this."

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Jeff went onto say that his first week back was 'fantastic' and praised his members for their support. 

"I have a pretty community based gym, so seeing all my amazing members who have supported the club over the last year is really rewarding," he said. 

There is clearly a greater awareness about living a healthier lifestyle and knowing that people still need us is really comforting. 

"I think most gym owners have been a bit worried about the online fitness revolution taking over.

"People are just over it and want to get back in the gym, we make people feel accountable and you just cant get that looking into a screen."

He added: "It just feels right, I have stopped watching the news and try to avoid any conversation about Covid so I can just crack on and do what I love. 

"So yeah, it feels pretty amazing to be able to open your business and earn an income again.

"I don’t take anything for granted anymore that’s for sure."

Did you reopen your business last week? Tell us your experience at monica.charsley@newsquest.co.uk.